‘Bright Star’ Brings the Heart Home

By Meg Gilbert

They say, “Home is where the heart is.” This fall, Florida Studio Theatre is proud to bring you the Florida Premiere of Bright Star, a play about coming home that is steeped in heart.

Created by actor, comedian, and writer Steve Martin along with renowned folk singer Edie Brickell, Bright Star tells the story of Alice Murphy, a literary editor who meets a young soldier just home from World War II. This chance meeting awakens in her a longing for the child she once lost.

“I have been thinking about this play for a long time now,” said Director Kate Alexander. “It has been said that the painter Andrew Wyeth captures the great American loneliness. Well, I think Bright Star captures the great American longing.”

Set against the rich backdrop of the American South in the 1940s, this sweeping musical tale originated from an album that Martin and Brickell created together in 2013 called Love Has Come for You. After completing the album, the writing duo couldn’t shake the thought that there was more to the music. So, they decided to write a book for it.

“Love can often be expressed in a way that makes you cringe,” Brickell said. “You feel like it’s corny somehow. We hoped that we could express it in a way that would inspire authentic feelings.” Five Tony nominations, a Grammy nomination, and a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Music later, we’re sure glad they did.

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Meredith Jones in FST’s Bright Star. Photo by John Jones.

“It is funny, and heartbreaking, and loving, and hateful, and so many things wrapped up into one,” said actress Meredith Jones of Bright Star. “When you root yourself into a character that is so human, the work in turn comes from a place of heart and truth.”

Jones returns to FST to play protagonist Alice Murphy in Bright Star after delighting audiences in FST’s productions of The Marvelous Wonderettes and Always…Patsy Cline.

But Jones won’t be the only familiar face featured in FST’s Mainstage Season opener. FST favorites Bill Selby (Older than Dirt, Laughing Matters vol. 5), Mimi Bessette (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, Guitar Girls), Michael Grieve (The Wonder Years), D.C. Anderson (Hairspray), and Ashley Rose (Next to Normal) will all be returning to Florida Studio Theatre, a place that so many actors across the country consider their own artistic home.

Rounding out the cast are newcomers Max Meyers, Travis Mitchell, Rachel Mulcahy, and Blake Price.

Called “Comfort food for the soul” by The Washingtonian and “A shining achievement” by The New York Times, Bright Star soars with soulful storytelling and spirit.

“This is a perfect show to open our 46th Mainstage season,” said Director Kate Alexander. “It speaks of our human capacity for resilience and self understanding. The characters are warm and full of life’s complexities. And the music is beautiful and reaches us deeply.”

But for Alexander, one aspect of Bright Star hits home above all else. “Ultimately,” Alexander shared, “this is a musical that brings us home to ourselves.”

Bright Star plays in FST’s Gompertz Theatre through January 3 and is part of a four-show subscription package.  Also included in the Mainstage subscription package is the cross-cultural romantic comedy Handle With Care, the gripping new play American Son, and The Legend of Georgia McBridea musical comedy written by the Obie Award-winning playwright Matthew Lopez.

Subscriptions for all four Winter Mainstage shows can be purchased for as little as $69 at (941) 366-9000 or online here.

For more information about Bright Star or to purchase tickets, click here.